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Sunday, 10 December 2017

Incompetence And Malice

I am a believer in Hanlon's Razor, the oft-quoted (and oft-misquoted) statement, "Never attribute to malice what can be sufficiently explained by stupidity". Goethe said something similar, back in 1774: "Misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent."

The thing is...

The thing is that holding this believe doesn't prepare you at all for what is going on in the world of politics.

There's different sorts of malice. There's the very direct and very hostile malice, wherein you actively want the consequences of your actions, especially if they hurt or kill or traumatise another. Premeditated violent crime, for example. I won't go into examples - you know what I am talking about.

Following that, there's different stages of being removed from the end result of the deed you undertake, which is why it is easier to kill someone with a gun than a knife. There's far less of a direct and visceral connection between squeezing the trigger, a loud bang, and over there someone falls over - compared to having to actually inflict the physical trauma with something in your own hand, to physically struggle with the individual you are hurting. (This is in part why guns should be restricted, by the way.)

There comes the line wherein someone can perform the mental acrobatics necessary to make this statement their guiding philosophy:

I have performed this action, and don't care about the consequences.

It's the difference between aiming a firearm at someone with the express intent to kill them, and firing into a crowd at random. It's the difference between not checking a brake line because you want the driver of the car to have an accident, and forgetting to check the brake line because you're making up time. It's the difference between signing the Poor People Starve Act, and extending the waiting time for benefits for whatever nebulous reason one could come up with.

Weekly, it becomes apparent that a significant amount of systems and organisations in the world today are arranged in such a way as to insulate those who make decisions that hurt others from those others that they hurt, and also from any repercussions.

There's no recall for politicians in this country. If we vote in an MP that goes on to thoroughly stab their base in the back, we can't get rid of them until the next election rolls around - and they know it, and they hide behind it. The wealthy live in neighbourhoods and districts that have a greater police presence, or even gated communities - except the police aren't there to make them obey the law. Police don't arrest white-collar criminals. There's several layers of people to act as a buffer between, say, Rupert Murdoch and an individual personally attacked by any one of his spider-like web of media properties - not just people but laws and financial barriers, too.

There will be many of my more cynical readers who will roll their eyes and scoff and say "yeah obviously".


I think it has become accepted, that this is the way things are, and the way things will remain - and that's a problem. Even if we normal folks, who get to eat the shit sandwiches made for us by the men in the high towers, recognise this absolute lack of care or concern - we recognise it in an eye-rolling yeah-I-know same-old kind of way.

We don't even really get angry about it any more. It's become so normalised in our society that we accept it with a solemn sigh and a shrug, like the fact that it rains when you plan a barbecue or that the most recent album from that classic band you like isn't actually very good.

Which is...mad, isn't it? ...because it's a shit thing. It's a shit thing to have happen to us as a society. If someone came to visit from a perfect society from the future (or an alternative dimension) they'd look at this state of affairs with such absurd incredulity.

But that's how the system perpetuates. It continues because we live in it and we don't think about how it would work if something changed.

The people in power persist in making decisions that hurt so many and benefit so few because not only are they protected from the repercussions, but also, we EXPECT them to be protected from the repercussions.

If things are going to change - here is a place to start.

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